Something I believe in wholeheartedly is student choice. I will be one of the first to admit that providing students with choice can be a struggle, when you are tasked with making sure they know all the things. With that said, this year, I have a renewed mission to seek ways to provide my dear learning partners with choice. Sometimes, when it is successful– and it isn’t always successful– it gives me teacher life.
Allow me to set the stage:
It is the end of the day, and there is just one more block class left. I don’t want to see that dead look in their eyes they get when we are going over something they already know. Bracing myself, I say, “raise your hand if you are confident when it comes to your understanding of internal and external conflict and responses.” About half of the class raises their hand. I step out onto the teacher ledge a little bit more.
“Remember our conversation day one or two about being honest with yourself? I need you to be honest with yourselves. If you feel that you are confident, then continue reading your book of choice. On the other hand, if you have no idea what I am talking about when I mention ‘internal and external responses’, please come to the front. If you feel that maybe you just need a quick refresher, please come to the front. The rest of you read in the back.”
I felt such immense joy when so many of them came to the front carpet for their mini-lesson. I felt even more joy, when I was able to quickly assess that they didn’t need much. I asked questions and allowed them to lead their own learning. They tossed out questions and examples to each other one went like this:
“What if someone says something and then it makes me feel bad. Those are my feelings, so it is internal right?”
“No. Someone SAID something TO YOU. That means it is external.”
“But if I just feel sad because I did something to someone?”
“THAT is internal. No one did anything to make you feel that way. You made yourself feel that way.”
They looked at me for confirmation. It went on like this through conflict and responses with one of my favorite picture books Zero as our mentor text, and then I was able to say, “alright guys, that is it. If you feel like you have more questions, stay with me and ask. If you feel like you’re good, you’re reading or you’re writing.”
They left me with smiles on their faces, and they said thank you. I didn’t ask why they were thanking me. I feel their gratitude came from keeping it short and sweet, giving them choice, and letting them guide themselves.
That moment felt so exhilarating. Just like with writing, providing them with choice takes a little vulnerability, but it can totally pay off. This time, it gave me teacher life. If this were a video game, you would hear, “zing, zing, zing, level up!” I can keep going a good three days on this!
Anything give you life this week? Tell me about it in the comments!